Pasta Princess’s Penne and Chicken in Pesto Cream Sauce

Penne with Chicken in Pesto Cream Sauce

An almost empty zip lock bag of homemade pesto is staring at me in the freezer.  I’ve used a lot of pesto this year for my favorite pizza – chicken and pesto pizza with cherry tomatoes.  I’m loving this pizza so I thought why not incorporate these ingredients with pasta?  I came up with a winner that I will definitely be making again.  It is quick, easy and absolutely delicious.  Enjoy!

Pasta Princess’s Penne with Chicken and Pesto Sauce


  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup home-made pesto*
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup reserved pasta water
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 Grilled boneless chicken breasts


Grill chicken

While chicken is grilling cook penne according to directions.  Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water (the starch from the pasta thickens the sauce).

Dice red bell peppers, slice mushrooms and cut grilled chicken into bite size pieces.

Spray a large sauté pan with olive oil and sauté red bell peppers, and tomatoes on medium heat until peppers are tender crisp – approximately 8 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms and chicken.  Continue to cook another 5 minutes.

Add pesto, heavy cream, reserved pasta water and parmesan cheese.  Cook until heated through.

Serve and enjoy!

 Penne and Chicken in Pesto Cream Sauce

 *Pesto alla Genovese

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

Pesto Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, salt, and pepper and process for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese, pine nuts, and garlic and, while the processor is running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream until a mostly smooth sauce is formed. Transfer pesto to a bowl and set aside. (Note: Pesto may be made 1 day in advance and kept, refrigerated, in an airtight container, until ready to use. If making in advance, be sure to cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the pesto from darkening. Pesto may also be frozen in the same manner in small quantities for use at a later date.)  Note:  I freeze pesto in an ice-cube tray and then pop them into a zip lock bag.  I had almost a full bag of frozen pesto cubes from my basil this past summer.  It thaws quickly for use!


7 thoughts on “Pasta Princess’s Penne and Chicken in Pesto Cream Sauce

  1. Pingback: Chicken Pesto Tart | Andrea's Garden Cooking

  2. Pingback: Shrimps in Pesto Sauce with Spelt Rigatoni | Yummyfoodmadeeasy

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